VANCOUVER, British Columbia, March 19, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Audain Prize for British Columbia’s most distinguished artists established in 2004 is this year being raised to $100,000, Michael Audain, Chairman of the Audain Foundation announces today.

The Audain Prize will now be one of the big three annual Canadian arts awards to issue the winning recipient a cash prize of $100,000. The Giller Prize (celebrating excellence in Canadian fiction) and the Sobey Art Award (for a contemporary Canadian artist, age 40 and under) are in this rare company.

“We are increasing the value of the Audain Prize award because we want our leading artists to become better known. After all, British Columbia has some wonderful visual artists, and many are not as widely recognized as they should be,” says Michael Audain.

“Recently, I have spent some time in Quebec and found that their cultural heroes, such as Celine Dion and Jean Paul Riopelle, are well-known throughout the length and breadth of that province. I don’t see why we shouldn’t have that level of pride in B.C.  We have some of the world’s best contemporary artists, yet is the man or woman on the street in Kelowna or Prince George aware of Jeff Wall or Rodney Graham? Maybe they have heard of Emily Carr, but otherwise I doubt it,” adds Audain. 

In addition to the $100,000 Audain Prize for Visual Art, the Audain Foundation plans to fund five $7,500 travel grants for students in university-level visual arts programs. More information will be made available on these grants soon.

“The Audain Art Museum is delighted that this year we will be responsible for managing this important art award as our museum specializes in art by British Columbia artists. In fact, our Whistler museum is unique in this respect,” says Director & Chief Curator Dr. Curtis Collins.

The Audain Prize ceremony will take place on September 23 at a location yet to be finalized. The recipients will be selected by an independent jury of curators and artists.

“As the Audain Prize will now be managed by the Audain Art Museum, it has been agreed that the $1.5 million endowment established at the Vancouver Art Gallery for this purpose will be added to the Audain Emerging Artists Acquisition Fund at the Gallery, increasing it to $3.5 million,” adds Audain.

Past Audain Prize recipients include: Ann Kipling, Edward J. Hughes, Eric Metcalfe, Gordon Smith, Jeff Wall, Liz Magor, Robert Davidson, Rodney Graham, Marian Penner Bancroft, Takao Tanabe, Gathie Falk, Fred Herzog, Michael Morris, Paul Wong, Carole Itter and Susan Point.

Audain Foundation Background
Established in 1997 to support the visual arts mainly in British Columbia, the Foundation has made over $120 million in grants.  More recently, the Foundation has expanded its scope to include wildlife conservation, with a special emphasis on grizzly bears.

Audain Art Museum Background
Located on Blackcomb Way adjacent to Whistler Village.  Opened in 2016, the Museum houses a large portion of the art collection that Michael Audain and his wife Yoshiko Karasawa amassed over the past 40 years.  Their world-class Northwest Coast art collection is on permanent display, plus there are galleries for special exhibitions of Canadian and international art.

For media enquiries -- please contact:

THE AUDAIN FOUNDATION
Michael Audain  OC OBC
Chairman
604 877-1131
maudain@polyhomes.com

AUDAIN ART MUSEUM
Dr. Curtis Collins
Director & Chief Curator
1 604 962-0413  Ext. 101
ccollins@audainartmuseum.com

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/d0c89cb7-e7ac-46cf-b64a-97e5823892f1.